December 31, 2005

Holidays wind down

lighted christmas treeThe holidays are almost over. It was great seeing family members who we don't see often enough.

The photo on the left shows the sun coming though our octagon window and illuminating one side of the Christmas tree. It was an unusual effect.

Now we enter a gray stretch of winter that makes me long for sunshine. Hopefully we'll get some sunny days. I like to get outside when the sky is bright.

Luckily we live near ski slopes. I don't have the nerve to ski myself - tried it a couple of times and was terrified by the speed. But I like watching the skiers and hearing their laughter.

While Marie was here, we had dinner at Coleman's where you can watch the lighted slopes where the skiers and snowboarders glide by. And sometimes a school bus brings local high schoolers for an evening of fun on the snow - I enjoy watching them. And during the day the tubing hill is crowded with small children having a great time. Tubing appears to be safer than sledding but it's fast and fun.

December 29, 2005

Guests have gone home

Well, Christmas is over, houseguests have left, and the house is quiet. Allison and Dave had a little trouble getting off the mountain - their car slid on the rain-slicked ice and wound up with two wheels hanging over the edge of a ravine. People visiting Quinn Peaks gave them a ride back to our house.

Since it was Christmas Day, we had difficulty finding a tow truck, and the fellow who did come said it would take TWO trucks to get them out safely. Finally two trucks did arrive and got them out.

m javinsMeanwhile, my traveling daughter Marie arrived and it was good to see her. The next day she and I met Lynn for lunch in Staunton.

Marie has gone home and is getting ready for a trip to Kuwait.

icy creek

December 28, 2005

Wisdom from Garrison Keillor

This is from Keillor's novel "Love Me." A columnist is writing this to a fellow who complains of being a loser.
"A gloomy guy can decide not to be and take the stone out of his shoe and walk straight. So do it. But don't expect to do it tonight and tomorrow. Impatience is the luxury of youth. The rest of us must take things in steps. If you don't know this, life will teach you. Life is a relentless instructor. Gloom and dread are dispelled by making slight progress; progress, even slight, leads to more progress; and gradually the glacier shifts, the ice jam breaks and things move in the direction of your dreams. Keep trying."

2 inch line

Frank has a birthday

man with gift

Happy Birthday Frank!

cocker spaniel

December 26, 2005

Chemical Sensitivity Resources

For those injured by chemicals, a Canadian MCS site may be of interest. Also, films and publications on Gulf War Syndrome and Chemical Sensitivity are featured at

An overview of articles on environmental illness is available at

I recently learned that a woman I grew up with died of lung cancer. I recall that her father was a heavy smoker. Was this a contributing factor? Her sister had asthma, probably from second-hand smoke.

For a page of links on tobacco and health issues, see

December 25, 2005


colorful Here's a colorful image for a bright holiday! It started out as a photo of a bird feeder and I put it through a few changes in Adobe Photoshop (R). More about that in a minute.

floral designI've been trying out my new digital camera. To make sure it worked, I took a few photos of my dogs and some squirrels and birds. On the right you can see a close-up of a plastic bird feeder. It was empty so the sun shone through. I used some filters in Photoshop to exaggerate the colors and then added a stained-glass filter. It's not recognizable but it's kind of fun.

December 24, 2005

Looking back at the year

red berriesPeggy has posted her Christmas letter, a summary of highlights of her year.

I never got into writing a Christmas letter. What would I say? Marie's book on Tent Camping in New Jersey was published. She went to Africa. Otherwise, our family did not do much that outsiders would care about.

And besides, I write about it here as we go along.

Holly days

hollyMay you make yourself a Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2005

Ban perfume in church?

Some of us are allergic to perfume. Here's an old article from Christian Century called How the Church Can Help the Chemically Sensitive. Some churches actually have published requests that attendees not wear fragrance but it's hard to enforce it without upsetting people.

Thank you for not forcing your perfumes on those of us who really don't want to be around it.

Visual Migraine

The other night I suddenly had a visual migraine and had to give up on using the computer for a while. It looks like lights are flashing and the center of what you are looking at is breaking up. It's impossible to read while this is happening. The doctor says it is a kind of migraine. This has happened to me fewer than a dozen times.

I tried to make this photo look like what you see, except that points of light are flashing that flashbulbs going off. It's called an aura.

December 22, 2005

Winter warmth

fireplaceOn cold December evenings, we enjoy having a fire in the wood stove.

December 19, 2005

Photos: Drops of Water

drops on a window
These are photographs I took of water drops. The first one shows raindrops on a window glass. And below is a single drop hanging from a branch.
drop of water

December 18, 2005

New Market Battlefield

I finished posting my photo tour of New Market Battlefield. There's over three dozen photos starting with the North Fork at Mt. Jackson and including the 54th Pennsylvania Monument and the Bushong farm.

December 17, 2005

Winter in Basye

snowy path Here in the Virginia mountains we've had a couple of snow storms already. The ski slopes are open at Bryce Mountain and people are enjoying them.

family skiing

December 14, 2005

Grey squirrel

squirrel It's cold here on the mountain! The forecast calls for sleet and ice tomorrow - b-r-r-r!

I have a couple of bird feeders on the deck and of course, the squirrels visit them regularly. I don't mind; they are fun to watch.

December 12, 2005

Parting glimpse of the river

coveFrom our backyard in Glebe Harbor.
The dock and boat are not ours; they belong to the house next door.

December 10, 2005

Back at Glebe Harbor

cocker spanielWe're spending the weekend at our Northern Neck house in order to attend the Glebe Harbor-Cabin Point Property Owner's Meeting. Our neighbor's house has not sold yet. It's waterfront, but I guess the cold weather is keeping buyers away.

We've had some snow here in Virginia, even in Westmoreland County which doesn't usually get a lot of snow.
House for Sale Next Door, located on a cove

December 8, 2005

Guppy is Back at Home

dogLittle Guppy is home and seems to be okay. He spent Tuesday night in the doggy hospital recovering from a painfully over-stuffed tummy. He had eaten some bad things including a piece of cloth that he chewed off his dog bed. He has eaten inappropriate things before but this was the worst.

Unfortunately we don't know why he has these eating fits. It could be a seizure disorder. I'll have to keep a close eye on him.

Guppy is 13 and a really neat dog. He had his own website at

Grandkids on the web

Little Ryley is turning into quite a photographer. See his photo of deer at the Boyles Family Blog.

Meanwhile, the Ashley family has created a blog too:

deer herd

Photo of Deauville Deer by Linda Walcroft

December 6, 2005

Patients seek out web information

I found this idea in a recent book by David Wise, Ph.D. and Rodney Anderson, M.D.:

A patient who fails to receive an effective treatment from his doctor "goes to the internet to find avenues or advice to deal with this problem. This is now true for all medical conditions. The popularity of websites offering medical information is a testimony to this. The ability to search for alternative medical opinions and treatments on the internet represents a profoundly important change in medicine. The doctor has ceased to have the last word.

... It has been suggested that the webmaster may ultimately be more influential in medicine than the doctor by democratizing the exposure of different viewpoints that otherwise would not have been made available to patients."

December 5, 2005

First Massachusetts Cavalry Monument

A visitor to my Civil War page on Jeb Stuart's screening actions on the route to Gettysburg wrote asking where the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry Monument is located. It's on Snickersville Turnpike near Aldie, Virginia. A map can be seen at which has an interesting Civil War page under the History link.

December 4, 2005

Jersey City Condo

Marie is thinking of selling her apartment in Jersey City. The photo shows her at her sunny front window. Her home is a one-bedroom condo on the first floor of a Victorian building in a friendly neighborhood.

Elizabeth Furnace

These show remains of an old iron furnace at Elizabeth Furnace in Fort Valley, Virginia.


LinkdeerThis deer photo is actually a composite that I made using Photoshop.
But yes, the deer was very close when I took his picture.

Shenandoah Valley residents who are interested in learning nature photography should check out the courses at Lord Fairfax Community College. Rob Simpson is the instructor and he is not only an awesome photographer, he is also experienced in digital technology.

When I lived in Alexandria, I took many photo courses at Northern Virginia Community College. They have an excellent photography department.
tree on black background

December 3, 2005

Charter Oak State College

I found a fundraising appeal in my mail from the Charter Oak State College Foundation. It reminds me to mention that Charter Oak is a good place to combine college credits and CLEP exams into a bachelor's degree. Those of us who have taken course from a variety of institutions find this a handy option.

December 2, 2005

Natural Chimneys

rock formationIt's cold here in western Virginia, but a few weeks ago we enjoyed warm and sunny days. Here are a couple photos of Natural Chimneys, Mt. Solon, Virginia.

natural chimneys

Sounds of war and peace

I was listening to a compilation CD of Joan Baez recordings. Right after a disturbing protest song about Bangladesh came a rambling soundtrack of her visit to Vietnam in 1972. She had gone to Hanoi to distribute mail and Christmas presents to American prisoners of war, and the tape player was running when American bombers flew over, dropping their deadly bombs on the city. This track is a chilling reminder of the danger, bravery, and tragedy of war, and the horrible effects on civilians including children.

Baez has a gift, an exquisite voice. Some of her songs are pure entertainment, and some are very thought-provoking. I am a long-time fan of folk music and protest songs - well, many kinds of songs. Sometimes I think singers and songwriters are among the most important people in our society.